Swatting is a dangerous and illegal prank that involves making a false emergency call to send armed police officers to a specific location. It can have serious consequences, such as injuries, deaths, or trauma for the victims and the responders. In November 2020, a swatting incident targeted the Ubisoft Montreal office, causing a massive evacuation and panic among the employees and the public. The perpetrator was a 22-year-old French gamer named Yanni Ouahioune, who was upset that he had been banned from playing Rainbow Six Siege, an online shooter game developed by Ubisoft.
The Swatting Incident
On November 13, 2020, Ouahioune called the Montreal police and claimed that there were hostages taken at the Ubisoft Montreal office, located in the Mile End neighborhood. He used a computer in his parents’ home and routed the call through Russian servers to avoid detection. He also posted messages on social media claiming that he was one of the hostages and that he had explosives strapped to his body.
The police responded by sending a tactical unit in armored vehicles to the scene. They cordoned off the area and evacuated the building, which can house thousands of workers. Some employees took refuge in barricaded rooms and on the roof of the building, while others were escorted out by the police. The operation lasted for several hours before the police realized that it was a hoax and that there was no threat.
The incident caused fear and confusion among the Ubisoft employees and their families, as well as the residents and businesses in the neighborhood. It also wasted valuable resources and time for the police and the emergency services.
The Motive and the Consequences
Ouahioune was identified as the suspect by the French police, who collaborated with their Canadian counterparts. He was arrested in December 2020 and charged with several counts of swatting, harassment, identity theft, computer fraud, and cyberattacks. He admitted to being a Rainbow Six Siege player who had been banned from the game more than 80 times for cheating and toxic behavior. He said he swatted the Ubisoft office out of revenge and frustration. He also confessed to swatting other players and streamers who had reported him or criticized him online.
He also admitted to being involved in other cybercrimes, such as launching a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on a French government office and against Minecraft developer Mojang. He said he was part of a hacker group called “Apophis Squad” that had claimed responsibility for these attacks.
Ouahioune was sentenced this week in a Paris court to three years of community service for his crimes. He will also have to compensate his victims, undergo treatment for a mental health problem, and either work or undergo training. He will not serve any jail time, as he was given a suspended sentence.
Ubisoft issued a statement to Polygon, saying that they were committed to representing the interests of their employees who were affected by the false hostage alert. They said it was important for them to denounce this violent and unacceptable incident. They also said they will not comment further out of respect for their employees.
The Implications and the Prevention
Swatting is not a harmless prank. It is a serious crime that can endanger lives and cause harm to innocent people. It is also a form of cyberbullying that can have lasting psychological effects on the victims. Swatting is not only illegal in Canada and France, but also in many other countries around the world. It can result in criminal charges, fines, or imprisonment.
To prevent swatting incidents, there are some steps that can be taken by both individuals and organizations. For individuals, it is important to protect their personal information online, such as their address, phone number, or real name. They should also be careful about who they share their gaming or streaming activities with, and report any suspicious or threatening messages or calls they receive. For organizations, it is important to have security protocols and procedures in place to deal with potential swatting situations. They should also educate their employees about the risks and signs of swatting, and provide them with support and resources if they are affected by it.
Swatting is not a joke. It is a crime that can have serious consequences for everyone involved. It is not worth risking lives or careers over a video game ban or a personal grudge. Swatting is not cool. It is cruel.
The swatter was a 22-year-old French gamer named Yanni Ouahioune, who was upset that he had been banned from playing Rainbow Six Siege, an online shooter game developed by Ubisoft. He wanted to get revenge and attention by making a false hostage call to the police.